Five Rashford offsides show Manchester United can become more 'composed'

Marcus Rashford was called offside five times in Sunday’s 0-0 draw between Manchester United and Liverpool. It says more about the team as a whole than just the England striker.

No player has been flagged offside as many times in one Premier League game than Rashford since Robin van Persie (6) for United against Tottenham Hotspur in January 2013.

Rashford was offside for a variety of reasons; his own timing of the runs, the timing of the pass from his teammates, the composure of the team.

Solskjaer asks for composure after offside happy United

That last point is the key. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer referenced it post-match.

“We can play better than this, we can be more composed, we can have the ball more,” Solskjaer said. “We had to defend really often today. There are a couple of things for us to improve on.”

Only Anthony Martial had a pass success rate greater than 65% in Sunday’s game out of United’s forwards. Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani all came below that mark.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Martial only United forward with 65%+ pass success rate

Now, they don’t necessarily have to have higher than a 65% pass success rate to have an impact on the game, but it does show difficulty in pulling off their passes. A common reason for that is rushing things, showing a lack of composure. Fernandes, in particular, was guilty of that on Sunday. But most of United’s frontline was, except Martial.

It shows where improvement can come in this United side: working on specific patterns of play to make sure they come off in the game. It was only a matter of half-seconds that defined those offsides. Rashford going too early or the pass coming too late. Either way, training ground work on those patterns of play is a must for United.

United can work on it on training ground

It’s something that links to a wider point. United can play with creativity and inspiration but in their poorer games appear to have no consistent, trained patterns of play. Seeing more evidence of those would be fantastic. In a season of tight margins in which United are very much in a title race, small improvements will be key.

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Life-long Manchester United fan with a strong interest in the club's academy. Host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. First game at Old Trafford was the 7-1 rout of AS Roma in 2007.